This Is Not Goodbye

NOTE: Updates will appear below this post, as it will be stickied at the top for the next several days.

Late Sunday I announced something that’s resulted in a lot of chatter and unbelievable attention: I’m leaving Kentucky. Just hold your horses before cheering – I’ll still be covering the ongoing scandals that have been uncovered by this website (like Montgomery County Schools, hemp, various Democratic Party messes) and will still be releasing huge amounts of documents and recordings that I have worked hard to acquire over the last few years.

Page One and The ‘Ville Voice will be focusing more on covering Kentucky’s delegation in Washington, as that’s something we’ve all dropped the ball on for years. As I begin to dig in, I’ll transition to several updates per week instead of several updates per day. The change is necessary for progress and sustainability.

I’ll also be transitioning back into doing what I love – research! Unrelated to my work here. It’s essentially what I did before this and have continued to do in order to get great stories. It’s exciting and affects real change. Only makes sense to keep my network of sources, law enforcement contacts, friends, legislators and the like intact. Democrat or Republican, candidate or issue, cause, concern, reporter, that means I’m for hire. My work speaks for itself and there’s a literal decade of material proving my value. Not afraid to toot my own horn here because there aren’t many others who have had the persistence and determination to dig things out of the darkness these last several years. Need someone to uncover something in Kentucky? A typical D.C. firm won’t have the access I have struggled to gain no matter how much you pay them. Just ask Louisville Metro Animal Services, Will Coursey or the Montgomery County Board of Education.

Those paying attention shouldn’t be surprised by this departure. The latest efforts in Frankfort to enact homophobic “Religious Freedom” legislation have had a chilling effect on business and progress in Kentucky. 90% or more of our advertising (location-targeted, mostly directed at state employees and the education community) comes from the enterprise world outside the state. All but two of those sponsors have expressed serious concern and outright doubt about spending money here as a result of that homophobic mess. It’s not just North Carolina – its happening here, just quietly. Who could blame them? Kim Davis and the unreal marriage license circus she kicked off haven’t helped.

After a few years of progress, we’ve jumped back at least 20. Remaining in a state that wants to deny people housing, jobs, access to care and other basic human rights because a handful of old guys are gay-panicked is no longer an option.

Governor Matt Bevin’s decision to back off the expansion of broadband infrastructure while slashing and burning the already starving higher education budget are additional setbacks that will keep Kentucky in the dark ages for decades to come. And in this world of Netflix 4K streaming and feature-rich websites, the only places in Kentucky keeping up are our major cities. That’s not good enough for the Commonwealth and isn’t exactly acceptable for Kentucky’s 110 other counties. The best places, the best people and the most important stories aren’t in the Golden Triangle. When you can’t reach them, you can’t reach Kentucky.

And no offense to the city I love but people in Somerset just don’t care about your arena, your bridges, your murder rate or Rick Pitino. There’s another world outside the expressway and it deserves our attention.

The health care roller coaster is another nightmare and you don’t need to hear my thoughts about that. Because young creatives are leaving, the working poor are beginning to suffer, those who need help the most are being treated as expendable. In fact, I never would have had access to affordable care if it weren’t for kynect.

All of this is happening while the Kentucky Democratic Party is officially in turmoil. People are getting indicted left and right and all the key players seem content not rocking the boat. With the exception of Mary Lou Marzian, Denise Harper Angel, Morgan McGarvey, Darryl Owens and a few other legislators? Complacency reigns supreme.

With that out of the way, I don’t want to be super-negative. Not sure how to put the rest of this into words because it’s not a goodbye, though it’s still tremendously difficult to express.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. I’ve chosen to live my life here because of that beauty and its people who love what I love. If you’re a Kentuckian, you *get* what I mean. It’s not something that’s easily explained. It’s just in your blood, you catch the bug, you get sucked in, hooked on it. From fine Kentucky bourbon to Eastern Whippoorwills to the foothills of our Appalachians, I love it all. Every bit of it. It’s intoxicating and I hope I get to return here some day soon.

When people close to me have died or I’ve hit bumps in the road, support has come from the most unexpected places and from people no one would have ever imagined. I’ve mostly kept things to myself all these years but want to highlight a few of them today:

  • When a corrupt hospice organization was complicit in draining my dying mother’s accounts and keeping me from seeing her, former Congressman Geoff Davis was on the phone with me within an hour. He went out of his way to help mom all the while knowing I would continue to publicly criticize and scrutinize his every move. Democrats don’t like hearing it but he’s a man of tremendous integrity. He never allowed me to thank him but I remain grateful.
  • When mom died, former Senate President David Williams and his family unexpectedly jumped to my rescue. The sent food (OH GOD THAT CARROT CAKE!), made sure I was functioning, sent people to my home. They showed compassion that made me believe family isn’t just blood.
  • When I wanted to bridge two unlikely forces to tackle some major holes in Kentucky’s anti-elder abuse efforts, I wasn’t sure what I could do. But my mind was blown when Senator Rand Paul’s people stepped up to the plate and State Represenative Joni Jenkins did the same. They sat down with me over several meals and they made things happen. Who could have predicted THAT? I still can’t believe it occurred. They put their differences aside and started something that’s rolling on to this day. Whether they admit it or not, those two camps are responsible for improving Kentucky on that front.
  • When Jack Conway’s people launched a nasty defamation campaign against me in 2011 (how dare anyone highlight corruption involving Democrats! especially when they’re gay), Dan Canon stepped up to help. He fought for me and for others and helped change the game. It may have cost me everything I had but it was worth it because Dan made it worth it. He’s gone on to score one of the biggest equality victories in history with his team. All while helping people from all walks of life seek justice. He’s a treasure in your own backyard and you don’t even know it.
  • When a tornado struck my hometown of West Liberty in March 2012, an unthinkable number of people jumped on the Red Cross website when I asked. No one said no. It warms my heart to know that every single person I called made contributions while on the phone and almost everyone emailed verification. Some of them sent trucks of food and supplies. Others got their congregations and friends together and moved quickly into action when I suggested they could stay with my loved ones back home. That remains one of the most impressive things I’ve witnessed in life.
  • After nearly a decade of uncovering corruption at Louisville Metro Animal Services, ousting director after director, documenting instance of horrific abuse after instance of horrific abuse, someone in a position of power finally took me seriously and put his foot down. Metro Councilman Kelly Downard, a conservative Republican, stepped in and launched an effort to clean things up. He got his colleagues together and used my years of work to hold people like Sadiqa Reynolds and Margaret Brosko accountable. Along with the assistance of his fellow councilmembers, Cindi Fowler and the incomparable Tina Ward-Pugh, they even changed the law. Sadie’s Law. Named in honor of the dog I profiled. That heartbreaking story ultimately changed the law and altered the direction of animal care in Kentucky’s largest city. It’s humbling and I’m grateful for Kelly Downard.
  • After uncovering a level of corruption – I still can’t fully believe it! – in Montgomery County Schools that shook my knees, I jumped on it, shed light on the situation day in and day out for what’s going on three years. Everyone in power sat on their hands, turning a blind eye to abuses of authority and outright law breaking, thieving and good old boy shenanigans you only see on television. Until an attorney at the Education Professional Standards Board named Alicia Sneed took action and launched a years-long investigation. That investigation is about to come to an end in a few weeks but it’s what helped me get the ball rolling. Once she started taking things seriously, I was able to get superintendent Joshua Powell removed, got his illegally-hired wife ousted, swept out about 50 (really) members of his henchman-filled inner circle, changed the makeup of the school board and got the former Commissioner of Education “resigned” from his contract nearly two years early. If it weren’t for Sneed, thousands of children and hundreds of teachers would still be suffering. She gives me hope that public servants can be inherently good.

That’s just scratching the surface but I hope it gives you a feel for what I’m talking about.

So many of you have reached out to ask what you can do to help and there’s one big way to do so:





You can also make contributions via secure credit card invoice if you shoot me an email. You could even consider purchasing ad space because you know Frankfort is watching. This website is their guilty pleasure.

Traffic here is insane even on days when I don’t publish, so I know you’re getting something out of it. If you do and you want to see me continue to cover what your mainstream media outlets ignore, please chip in. Immediate support will help me move a storage unit filled with documents to a more secure facility where I’ll be for the next year. Seriously – Uhaul is outrageously expensive.

Never imagined a gay kid from the mountains could get this far. With your help, I climbed to the top in a homophobic place like Kentucky. Now I just want to continue lending the voice I’ve gained to people who deserve it far more than the person writing this.

I’m never giving up on Kentucky and I hope you don’t give up on me.

NOTE: Updates will appear below this post, as it will be stickied at the top for the next several days.

What Just Happened In Kentucky?

Not just allegations of abuse. Not just the past two weeks.

It’s the past two months that just happened.

It all started in mid-March when the parents of Jamie Comer’s longtime (former) attorney/advisor/manager, Holly Harris, abruptly abandoned him for Hal Heiner. After weeks of Comer’s ego getting the better of him, refusing to accept constructive criticism, refusing to listen to anything he didn’t want to hear, he turned on Holly. That backfired in the worst way, as her parents had raised him nearly $600,000 in a matter of days. The easy money was gone. The loss of well-respected backers harmed him in a way no one could have anticipated.

It didn’t stop there. Over the course of a few weeks, Comer’s campaign machine fell apart from the inside out. Positions once held by experienced campaign operatives fell into the hands of people barely old enough to vote. Comer had stopped listening to anyone with political sense and in a fit of campaign paranoia opted to solely rely on the advice of lobbyists like Riggs Lewis. His statewide network suffered.

Rather than attempt to smooth things over with the potty trained Republican base, Comer went on a mission of trash-talking all who had abandoned him. He spent considerable amounts of time and energy attacking people like former staffer Grayson Smith. He had his lobbyists working to damage the character of Holly Harris, going so far as to have Lewis try to feed me sordid details about her. (Really? She’s a drunken mess? A degenerate single mother? Please. I’ve known the woman for a decade. That was some really low tripe. If she’d been a man, nothing of the sort would have been uttered.)

It was just dumb, scorched earth politicking at its worst. It’s the kind of thing that became commonplace for Jamie Comer and eventually tanked his campaign.

A rough timeline…

Comer started slipping in the polls.

He flip-flopped on his principles, jumping on issues he’d promised to downplay.

He continued to fall.

Everything was getting to him.

The damage was done and it started hitting home. It was clear the Harris mess was a problem. Clear his reliance on lobbyists was a problem. And members of the press had finally started talking about Marilyn Thomas.

Support in areas like Elizabethtown fell apart.

Comer was in such a froth that things like this were happening on the regular.

He started whitewashing bits and pieces of his candidacy.

While support in Central Kentucky continued to decline.

Abuse allegations were ratcheting up and Comer was struggling to find people to publicly stand beside him in once strong areas of support.

Comer, despite promises to his staff that he wouldn’t go full teabagger, turned his back on Kentucky’s poorest health care recipients on Medicaid.

His campaign staff’s inexperience manifested in the most painful manner.

The campaign shenanigans started to impact his state government office.

Despite being wishy-washy and nervous when Holly Harris pushed forward in standing up to the DEA on hemp, he decided it was time to take all credit for her work.

He released an education “plan” that was barely worthy of an eye roll.

It couldn’t have been predicted a year prior — when Comer was probably 20 points ahead of everyone — but he was sinking in everyone’s internal polling. He was no longer the leader of the pack.

In one of the most bizarre moment during Comer’s candidacy, he released a pro-life television spot. Something he most certainly hasn’t been at any point in the past four years. He was all about women having the power to make their own informed decisions.

Jamie Comer was just hemorrhaging cash on panicked polling and advertising.

He knew he was losing his chance and went negative against Hal Heiner. Despite promises not to go negative, of course.

Hypocrisy became the name of the game for Jamie.

He embarrassed the living daylights out of everyone with his monster of a pension disaster.

Really, hypocrisy was front and center. He had the audacity to attack Hal Heiner for having former Ernie Fletcher supporters on board… while himself being surrounded by dozens of former Fletcher confidants — including main man Riggs Lewis.

His plans failed to impress.

The appearance of impropriety reared its ugly head.

Because everything was going wrong for Jamie, he and Riggs pushed a story on Sam Youngman.

He went full-tilt revisionist.

We discovered that he appeared to be coordinating with a Super PAC, something he’d hypocritically accused Hal Heiner of doing.

Then that story he’d pushed on Sam Youngman started to backfire when Marilyn Thomas stepped forward. A few days later, she really stepped forward with claims of domestic violence and emotional abuse.

We discovered his running mate had attempted some whitewashing of his own. No one was showing up for him, either.

The dam broke. During a statewide radio debate, Comer’s performance lagged behind his colleagues. After that, he started attacking those running against him for things we proved he’d said and himself done.

The Thomas scandal grew by the minute.

Literally by the minute.

It was so bad that Comer threatened to sue anyone discussing the letter Marilyn Thomas wrote. So we published the most horrifying details.

For the first time it started to look like Matt Bevin had a shot.

The Thomas scandal got worse and worse for Comer.

And worse!

Nothing was going well for Comer so he had his wife appear in an ad.

Major newspapers endorsed his opponents.

When Jamie blamed everyone but himself, everyone hit back.

It was over for Jamie Comer and his puzzle pieces were no longer fitting together. The media was calling him out.

Which resulted in a surprising loss by fewer than 100 votes.

Moral of this story: It wasn’t just abuse allegations that ended Jamie Comer’s political career.

He ended it. Himself.

Liberty Christ Rand Paul Makes Everyone Mad

A spat between a major investor and Tempur Sealy management broke out Tuesday in advance of the Lexington-based corporation’s planned 2015 Investors Day meeting Wednesday in New York. [H-L]

President Barack Obama said Tuesday that he remains confident he acted within his legal authority with executive actions on immigration that have been halted by a federal judge. [HuffPo]

Wearing his two hats – one as senator, the other as a potential 2106 presidential candidate – Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul this week is holding events in Kentucky as well as in Ohio and Alabama. [C-J/AKN]

A U.S. prosecutor told jurors at the terrorism trial of accused al Qaeda operative Abid Naseer that his plan to bomb a shopping center in England in 2009 was described in a “chilling” letter recovered during the military raid that killed Osama bin Laden. [Reuters]

Scott T. Jones is the new Department of Charitable Gaming commissioner. Jones replaces former commissioner Bob Sparrow, who retired last year. Jones was most recently the chief of staff for House Speaker Pro Tem Larry Clark, the Louisville state representative who stepped down from his leadership post in January after 12 years. [WHAS11]

Rand Paul is reportedly set to announce his presidential campaign in April. And (timing!) his supporters are happily pointing to new Quinnipiac polls of three key swing states, which show — for a change — that a Republican is running neck-and-neck with Hillary Clinton. [WaPo]

A new fire station, a new police station, an indoor recreation facility, new directional signage, better parking, outdoor recreation spaces, and a definition of Morehead. [The Morehead News]

Louisville is the 11th-poorest city in the United States. But it’s still all puppies and rainbows and whatever else Greg Fischer’s spokesgays can come up with on any given day. [CBS News]

SNOWPOCALYPSE shut down the legislature! [Ashland Independent]

Scott Welk, who brought forward the lawsuit on Tuesday in California federal court, accused the Jim Beam Brands of violating California’s False Advertising Law with its handmade claims thus forcing him to pay a premium price for Jim Beam’s white label Bourbon. [The Spirit Business]

After 24 hours of continuous snowfall, the Madison County Road Department and other agencies are working together to get the road conditions safe and businesses back up and running. [Richmond Register]

President Barack Obama has hit back at a ruling in Texas that brought to a halt his controversial migrant plan. [BBC]

State police recovered $360,000 worth of stolen baby formula during a traffic stop near the state line. [H-L]

The Obama administration is amending its regulations for weapons sales to allow the export of armed military drones to friendly nations and allies. [HuffPo]

2014 Golden Poo Awards – New Beginnings: Day 3

It’s day three!

Be sure you cast your vote for previous (s)categories!

Day 1For the Candidate Who Campaigned for Something and Was Counted On to Bring It…. But Couldn’t Produce Shit When the Pressure Was On

Day 2Worst Example Of Total Incompetence From A Local Or State Official

In honor of all the shenanigans this year, let’s do this thing. Ten (un)lucky winners will receive a fancy pile of golden b.s. — pictured above.

They’ll also receive a custom fridge magnet something like this:


IT’S PURPOSEFULLY UGLY

YOU get to nominate them all.

Which elected officials, public employees, candidates, reporters, public figures, et al are absolutely full of it? Chime in.

Each day for ten days we’ll announce a new award category for which you may submit an unlimited number of nominees. Once all nominations are received, we’ll announce the winners and deliver the, ahem, trophies.

Today’s (s)category is:

Most Pee-Worthy Abuse Of Social Media By A Public Figure Acting Like A 12-Year-Old Girl

Submit your nomination – along with your reasoning – in the comments. Keep it funny or else!

Latest KRS Move By Gov. Beshear Is Unsettling

If you missed it, as most did, Kentucky Retirement Systems added a new board member:

KRS welcomes Randy K. Stevens, who has been appointed by Governor Steve Beshear to serve on the Kentucky Retirement Systems Board of Trustees . He currently works as the District Manager for Trimble Water District #1 located in Bedford, Kentucky. Mr. Stephens was appointed to fill the CERS position recently vacated as a result of Richard Tanner’s resignation. Mr. Stevens will be sworn in at the Board’s April 17 Annual Meeting and will serve the remainder of the unexpired term ending July 1, 2017.

What KRS neglects to mention is that Randy Stevens is currently head of the Area Development Districts/KCADD:


CLICK TO ENLARGE


HIS DAY JOB

Which means he is effectively a lobbyist on the pension front:


CLICK TO ENLARGE

But he’s also a former Judge-Executive. Or he was until he was arrested for endangering countless lives:

Stevens faces drunken driving charges

Randy K. Stevens, the Trimble County, Ky., judge-executive, had a blood alcohol content of .11 percent after being arrested on drunken driving charges Saturday morning, according to a probable cause affidavit.

-SNIP-

According to a probable cause affidavit, Stevens was observed by a Madison police officer driving left of center, performing an unsafe lane movement and accelerating so fast that his vehicle fish-tailed.

Stevens was stopped by police at Vaughn Drive and East Street around 2:45 a.m. Saturday. According to court documents, he failed the one-leg stand and a test that is basically an eye exam that screens for involuntary rapid movement of the eyes when following an object being moved from side to side.

The arresting officer also wrote in the affidavit that he could smell alcohol on Stevens and that Stevens was unsteady on his feet and had bloodshot eyes.

He was forced to resign and Steve Beshear named his replacement:

Gov. Beshear has appointed Jerry L. Powell as Judge-Executive of Trimble County.

Jerry L. Powell, of Bedford, is the Trimble County Clerk. The appointment replaces Randy K. Stevens, who has resigned.

Stevens also defended Bob Arnold of KACo infamy:

Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy K. Stevens said county officials and Kentuckians “owe a debt of gratitude” to Arnold for furthering counties’ legislative agendas during his tenure. “It’s with a degree of reluctance that I think we’ll accept his resignation,” said Stevens, a KACo board member.

Bizarrely, after all that, Beshear appointed Stevens to this committee:

Gov. Beshear has appointed Randy K. Stevens to the Local Distribution Fund Oversight Committee to serve for a term expiring Jan. 1, 2015.

Randy K. Stevens, of Bedford, is executive director for the Kentucky Council of Area Development Districts. He represents the interests of special districts other than school districts. The appointment replaces Russ Harper, whose term has expired.

And now he’s a board trustee for the KRS!

You’re wondering why Kentucky Retirement Systems is regarded as one of the worst pension systems on earth?

This is why Kentucky can’t have nice things.

KRS Messes Impact More Than You Realize

There are tons of entities (thousands?) under the Kentucky Retirement Systems umbrella.

We’ve written about it so many times the past several years that your eyes are now glazing over.

But let’s just take a moment to glance at some of those CERS agencies:

  • Airport Boards
  • Ambulance Services
  • Area Development Districts
  • Boards of Education
  • Cities
  • Community Action Agencies
  • Conservation Districts
  • County Attorneys
  • County Clerks
  • Development Authorities
  • Fire Departments
  • Fiscal Courts
  • Health Departments
  • Housing Authorities
  • Jailers
  • Libraries
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Planning Commissions
  • Police Departments
  • Riverport Authorities
  • Sanitation Districts
  • Sheriff Departments
  • Special Districts & Boards
  • Tourist Commissions
  • Urban Government Agencies
  • Utility Boards

All the Commonwealth needs is just one angry CERS organization to start a class action lawsuit over any number of things.

Will it happen?

Let’s Finally Air Out Some Awful Things Today

To those who can’t stop spamming us with the nasty things human poop stain Joe Sonka has to say about me (Jake): Stop. And if you’re sensitive, stop reading now because this will be difficult for you to swallow. I’ve been polite and refused to lash out because my personal life is nobody’s business. Until now. Enough is enough.

I’d take a leak on his grave some day for the nasty crap he’s publicly said and done the past few years if I was a lesser man. That’s how disgusting and nasty he’s been to warrant such a remark from me. He was complicit in the 2011 defamation mess (let him try to deny it – his girlfriend at the time kept me in-the-loop, as did a hired private investigator and some of his friends who later confessed) and has continued to make up nasty crap about me since that point. That crew waited until my mother had been in a casket about five hours before their hate campaign launched. They planned it, sat on it, they knew what was happening with her and they pounced right as she died. No one bothered to report that sickening reality, though, when media competitors were obsessed with trying to take me down any way they could. They even sent flowers to the funeral home – which more than raised suspicion – as some sick prank. It was expertly planned to be as hurtful and disgusting as possible.

Joe’s nastiness was borne after constantly begging me for a job, after I gave him a laptop when he had none, after I actually gave him money on at least one occasion when I could. He reacted out of pure spite and jealousy. He and his friends started hitting me, the messenger of information they didn’t like, when they knew fully well they were making it impossible for me or my family to adequately grieve. They couldn’t be adults and couldn’t refute my coverage about Jack Conway or Elaine Walker. So they resorted to the worst of the worst – Joe especially. Despicable.

It doesn’t help matters that he’s been repeatedly funded in the past by people like Jonathan Miller and other prominent Democrats in exchange for ignoring their tripe. He stopped covering Jonathan and his sister after he received a donation from them, in fact, making him a Democratic mouthpiece. Something I am not and never will be.

Lest anyone suggest I don’t know what I’m talking about? I secured a settlement agreement with other involved parties of that defamation mess for a reason. Because I was right. Because what they did was rooted in hatred, dishonesty and destruction on a personal level. Some others who were involved: a guy who now works for an NPR affiliate for some bizarre reason, a girl who worked with Elaine Walker, a Democratic Party employee, an attorney affiliated with the Democrats, a PR hack who recently had to file bankruptcy, some Conway folks and a government employee who lost his job. To not name a few.

Anyone buying into the nastiness spread by them needs a reality check. Because they attempted to wreak havoc in ways I can’t even explain here. They went after my dead mother again and again, after my grieving family, me, my friends, attempted to harm relationships and they try to do the same today. Watch the way they behave, the people they cover, the way they attempt to malign the characters of their colleagues like Sam Youngman when they show the least bit of vulnerability. It’s the most unprofessional, un-Kentuckian, foul crap you can imagine.

I’m done with the worthless fucks and anyone attempting to defend their behavior. When they’re trashing me on Twitter or their shitty alt-weeklies? Remember what they did. Because I certainly do. My family, which had absolutely nothing to do with me or my business, certainly does. They didn’t deserve that trauma.

And to those who have stuck beside me through the years? A heartfelt and very public thank-you.

Jake

Yes, this is meant to be cyptic. The Kentucky press corps will ‘get it’ and that’s the point.